Civic group working to transform Poland triangle into park

Work on the project started about a year ago.
POLAND -- A once-deserted lot in the center of town is being turned into an attraction.
Town One Streetscapes, a civic group with a mission to make the community a more livable place, is converting the triangle between U.S. Route 224 and state Route 170 into a park. A McQuaid's gas station that went out of business used to sit on the site.
Several years ago, Streetscapes, along with the Poland Rotary, raised money to erect the clock tower located on the property.
Larry Warren, Streetscapes president, said the group wanted to design a more aesthetically pleasing use for the property in the town's center.
"There were limitations on what it could be used for because of the size and because it's a triangle shape situated between three busy highways," Warren said.
Group members decided a small park was the best option.
The Peterson family, which has connections to Poland, donated money to help the group secure the property and make the transformation, and it will be called Peterson Park.
"We began in earnest about a year ago," Warren said.
Progress and plans
The group took possession of the parcel July 1, and the first order of business was demolition of the gas station.
"An awful lot of people came forward to help," the group president said.
The Allied Waste Landfill buried debris from the site at no cost to Streetscapes, he said.
A retaining wall is being constructed around the park using stones taken from downtown Youngstown when the Nathaniel R. Jones federal courthouse was built.
"They're hand-cut stones that were cut probably 100 years ago," Warren said. "They're being recycled in a way. It's part of our history. Rather than going to a slag pile, they have a new use."
Plans call for a fountain, statues of the two men for which the community was named, decorative lighting to coordinate with the clock tower, trees and shrubbery and a sprinkler system to keep the plants hydrated.
Tom Antonishak, a Streetscapes member, has sculpted 6-foot clay statues of Gen. Casimir Pulaski and Gen. Thaddeus Kosciusko. The two Poles, although never in this part of the country, served with Gen. George Washington's army during the Revolutionary War and helped to train and lead the troops.
The statues must be cast before they can be mounted in the park.
Group members researched community parks in Northeast Ohio to determine if any others feature originally sculpted statues. They didn't find any.
"It's something you don't usually find in a small town," Warren said.
He declined to specify the costs involved in the park's creation, but completion is on a fast track.
"We hope to have the major work done before the weather gets bad," Warren said.
Minor work and finishing touches will be added in the spring with a dedication planned for May 2006.

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